Monday January 23, 2012, saw the March for Life in Washington D.C. The organizers of the march estimate that tens of thousands took part. I was following it on television, and I was particularly impressed by the large number of young people who were there.
I was also pleased to see that the focus of the group seems to have widened. The issue of legalized abortion has been the focus of the group since its beginning 39 years ago. This year I noticed speakers expand the pro-life concern to include the elderly and the disabled as also being vulnerable and needing protection.
I believe that legalized abortion is one of the great evils of our time. But it is just not enough to condemn abortion without also providing an alternative for those facing this dreadful decision. Fortunately help and support are available through a Catholic agency called the Gabriel Project.
The Gabriel Project began in Texas in 1990. Participating parish communities place a public sign on their properties. The sign states that the members of this parish community offer immediate and practical help to any expectant mother who needs assistance. The parish has trained volunteers to answer the hotline number, or to attend to those who come, to guide them to the physical, medical, pastoral or emotional care that they need.
In the event that the preventive care has not been effective, there is another service to help those who have been part of the deliberate termination of a pregnancy. Project Rachel was founded in 1984 in Milwaukee to provide confidential care for those struggling with the aftermath of an abortion.
The testimony of those who have been through that experience reveals that there is a deep-felt need for inner healing and reconciliation. Project Rachel offers skilled help to women, men, parents, grandparents, and others whose lives have been impacted by an abortion.
This service can now be found in more than 150 dioceses in the United States, and indeed throughout the world. Project Rachel gets its name from the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
“In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping.
Rachel mourns her children.
She refuses to be consoled because her children are no more.
“Thus says the Lord: Cease your cries of mourning; wipe the tears from your eyes.
The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward. There is hope for your future”. (Jeremiah 31, 15-17)
One of the speakers yesterday reminded us that our Founding Fathers, in their Declaration of Independence, were pro-life. They stated clearly that all men, all human beings, are endowed by their Creator with the right to life.
As we give testimony of the universal right to life, we know that we are in tune with our Founding Fathers. We also know we are in tune with the Creator, whose words speak to us from the Gospel: “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10, 10)